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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in maximizing egg-laying before summer solstice, and wonder which method produces the most brood, the colony starting in one brood box. The reason for me wanting to do so is threefold: I want to make increase, our best flow is after summer solstice and winter bees are made pretty soon after summer solstice in my area.

If someone has compared different methods, I'd be thrilled to hear. The techniques I'm considering are:

Demareeing
Adding extra brood box
Reversing
Checkerboarding (a la Walter Wright)
 

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Add pollen substitute inside the hive and insulate the hive. You should check with locals on the timing of adding pollen. They will need to be able to do regular cleansing flights. A warmer hive encourages egg-laying and helps to prevent chilled brood. J
 

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For me, I start adding pollen patties to my colonies mid February to maximize my numbers for fruitbloom and dandelions which start mid April. I would imagine you are in insulated boxes? I have the impression that foam boxes are standard there. If not that would be high on my list. BTU's make bees. My hives are wrapped with an insulated wrap to get my bees warm day and night as early in the season as possible. My bees all go into winter with dry sugar on the top bars supported by newspaper. I do not allow this feed or the pollen patties ever run out until the spring flow is well established and the bees have enough pollen and honey stored for any eventuality up to the main flow.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good points on the pollen sub, which I’m planning to use more than what’s common here. After all we do get our «fair» share of inclement weather.

Vance, you’re right we use insulated boxes here. That makes things a little different, but heat is of course crucial.

However, I winter them well enough, control mites, manage heat, manage space, keep young queens, try to maximize winter bees, keep them in places with good forage etc. I guess I could have been clearer with my question. When the bees have already managed the spring turnover and are expanding - how to keep squeezing the most eggs out of the queen, when the colony is motivated to increase colony size (before summer solstice)? Part of the answer is swarm control, part is probably differing efficacy of different methods of stimulating brood rearing.
 

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Food, a place to lay (not honey bound), a critical mass of bees, collective decision making on the part of bees to start ramping up. But all things being equal, I have some bees that ramp up brood rearing much earlier that others, some that never really ramp it up at all. Of course I make queens from those that perform well. In a word selection. But be careful. Last year I had bees that filled 4 medium boxes by the end of March. But the best bees seemed to bide their time a bit, then ramp things up. The latter group always had food and seemed to time things better. Find bees that preform for you, then reward them by propagating them.
 

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make sure the queen has plenty of open contiguous (next to each other, not spaced out) cells to lay in. We move frames around.

Crazy Roland
 

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For me, I start adding pollen patties to my colonies mid February to maximize my numbers for fruitbloom and dandelions which start mid April.
I'm jealous when I hear beekeepers say their bees are taking advantage of dandelion nectar. I see bees working dandelions for pollen but I rarely see dandelion nectar being stored.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
make sure the queen has plenty of open contiguous (next to each other, not spaced out) cells to lay in. We move frames around.

Crazy Roland
I think I've also seen you write that you draw the broodnest out in spring. I guess you keep them in one brood box all season?

Mike Gilmore - it's both. I know it's hard to reconcile those, but both goals require a lot of bees. We have a short window for "reliably" mating queens/making splits. Since the best flow is late in the season, I'm not too concerned with losing honey from earlier flows. If the production colonies really ramp up egg-laying leading up to summer solstice, they will be very motivated to gather honey from the last flow, and will reach full strength before it ends. During the flow they make winter bees, so it's not wasted to have a high population at the end of the flow.

DCA - I have been considering something like it, getting queens mated above a double queen excluder, and combining before the last flow.

Iharder - you're spot on about matching genetics to your season, flows and management practice.
 

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The queen is in one deep, the brood, not so much.

We ussualy see nectar from dandelions, it is what gets them reved up for the coming summer. The only reasons we do not see a good "push" from them is high temperatures that make it too short, or late conditions when they are getting sprayed prior to planting.

Crazy Roland
 

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All good comments, but be sure you're not getting too far ahead of your bees. If your fall planning didn't factor in this explosive pre-season growth you're planning to induce, then be prepared to manage big, very hungry colonies BEFORE your nectar flow. It is heartbreaking to see these monster colonies fail due to lack of food... Don't ask how I know :(
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Dandelions at least give a very good stimulus here, but can give good surplus, if the spring's been long enough to build up to the dandelion flow. After the dandelions, we get our only dearth of the season, which usually lasts around 10-14 days. That can lead to a lot of swarming, and conversely, if I do manipulations right, I should be able to get a last boost of brooding up before summer solstice.

AstroBee, I've done my share of mistakes too :) Good point. Fortunately, we have a fairly continuous flow through the season. Early in the season, I have to babysit them, though, mostly because weather often can prevent them from foraging for extended periods.
 

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Often there is a good dandelion flow, but it is not observed because the bees consume it to make more bees. Better observations will often confirm this.

Crazy Roland
 
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